Key Democrat says Arctic Refuge now safe from drilling due to defeat of Republicans

Jeff Bingaman, senator from New Mexico will be the new chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He says the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is now safe from drilling proposals. The oil industry’s political representatives can count the votes too, and they agree.

Story by James W. Brosnan. Albuquerque Tribune.

Bison briefly excape quarantine facility just north of YNP

Bozeman Chronicle article by Scott McMillion.

– – – –

Here is the news release on the incident from the Buffalo Field Campaign-

P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, Montana 59758

Eight Imprisoned Yellowstone Bison Calves Escape Quarantine Facility
Facility’s Integrity Shattered; Conditions Poor
Exclusive BFC Video & Photos Available Upon Request

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Contact: Stephany Seay 406-646-0070

GARDINER, MONTANA. Eight Yellowstone bison calves, captured and orphaned by state and federal agencies, escaped the Corwin Springs quarantine facility near Gardiner, Montana on Monday of this week.

“This quarantine is a failed experiment that should be stopped at once,” said Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) Project Director Dan Brister. “Bison are escaping and wild animals are entering. By definition quarantine is ‘a strict isolation imposed to prevent the spread of disease.’ The incompetence of Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and the Department of Agriculture in allowing the quarantined animals to potentially mingle with wild animals is astounding,” he added.

Bighorn sheep and mule deer were observed inside the facility last winter and spring.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) and USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) run the joint state-federal quarantine feasibility study under the premises of creating “a disease-free herd,” and restoring “wild bison” to public and tribal lands. The captured wild calves are living in domestication. They are imprisoned within double-electric fences, wear ear tags and are fed hay like livestock. The bison calves are routinely handled and experimented on by scientists.

After somehow managing to escape through a double fence, the domesticated bison remained in the immediate area and were easily recaptured.

“Quarantine is the antithesis of buffalo restoration. Wild buffalo restore themselves naturally, every year when members of the Yellowstone herd attempt to migrate, but the government keeps getting in the way and killing them for trying,” said BFC spokesperson Stephany Seay.

The agencies obtain the wild Yellowstone bison calves from capture and slaughter operations carried out under the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP). The IBMP is a taxpayer-funded state/federal plan drafted at the urging of Montana’s livestock industry. Approximately 100 bison calves have been captured from Yellowstone and transported to the facility. Over the summer, 48 calves were removed from quarantine and sent to slaughter to be dissected and studied. None of the calves killed were infected with brucellosis.

Wild bison have never transmitted brucellosis to domestic cattle, even where they have coexisted for decades (Grand Teton National Park).

Representatives from the Buffalo Field Campaign, a wild bison advocacy group, toured the facility last spring and were shocked at the conditions in which the wild calves were being held.

“We found old syringe-needles from when the property was an elk ranch,” said BFC co-founder Mike Mease, “and there is an old semi-tractor still parked in one of the active pastures and a lot of junk–scrap metal and old machinery–scattered around the place. They haven’t even installed freeze-proof irrigation to maintain the larger pastures, so the bison are stuck in small corrals unfit even for cattle.”

At a public meeting in Gardiner, Montana last winter, FWP scientist Keith Aune boasted that they would “train [the now-domesticated calves] how to be wild.” He went on to say that running the quarantine facility “is a lot like ranching.”

American Bison once spanned the continent, numbering between 30 and 50 million. The Yellowstone bison are America’s only continuously wild herd, numbering fewer than 4,000 animals, less than .01 percent of the bison’s former population.

The Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field every day in defense of America’s last wild buffalo. Video, photos and more information are available at

YNP WOLF Field Notes, November 22-26, 2006, by Kathie Lynch

Kathie Lynch, one of our Wolf Recovery Foundation directors, has just written one of her ever popular reports of Yellowstone wolf observations.

Ralph Maughan


YNP WOLF Field Notes, November 22-26, 2006

By Kathie Lynch.

Thanksgiving in Yellowstone! If you want to escape the holiday frenzy, head to Yellowstone–where theonly crowds you’ll find are the herds of bisonstanding around in the road, and instead of holiday”muzak” at the mall, the howl of the wolf will fill your ears.

My five day visit (November 22-26, 2006) featured avery special treat–I got to see the Druids! The last time I saw the Druid Peak pack was July 4, just beforethey departed Round Prairie for summer in the high country. While they have dropped in for occasionalvisits to the Lamar Valley since then, this was myfirst chance to see them.

My sightings were brief, but, as most devoted Yellowstone wolf watchers will agree, any Druid sighting is a most precious gift! The Druids had been visiting a cow bison carcass (cause of death unknown, but a sickly looking one had been reported in the area.) It was on the hillside, just north of the roadfrom the Hitching Post turnout in Lamar and very near “21’s Crossing.”

My first Druid sighting was a big, beautiful graypup (now almost adult size) north of the road in the Soda Butte Valley as the Druids traveled east from the carcass. The pup was a crack up! He was rolling around on his back in the snow, wiggling all over and waving all four legs in the air! That one minutesighting was my only wolf for that day, but I couldn’t have been happier–I had seen a Druid!

The next day, I was even luckier. I arrived just in time to see 10 Druids running full tilt just below the tree line in the same area. They were so full of life and just seemed to be enjoying a gallop in the snow. A couple of bull elk scattered in their path, but I don’t think they were really chasing them–it looked like they were just out for a joy ride!

Of course, with so many pups, you have to expect a lot of enthusiasm! The Druid count lately has consistently been “only” 14 (Only!…Think about just four Druids a year ago!), nine black and five gray. Unfortunately, one black pup has not been present inrecent sightings. I sure hope the missing one is not that brave little fellow who was left behind for four days at Round Prairie last July before being rescued by the pack. If a black pup is indeed missing, the pack would include four adults (alpha 480M, alpha 529F, 302M, and the uncollared gray female) and 10pups (six black and four gray).

The other big news had to do with the Agate Creek pack–they were on the move into new and hostile territory. One morning, all 13 Agates (led by venerable alpha male 113M and alpha 472F, a former Druid, and sired by 21M) were in Yancey’s Hole (north of the road, between Tower Junction and Petrified Tree). At the same time, all eight of the Hellroaring packwolves (led by alphas 287M and 353F) were on a carcass, easily visible below Hellroaring Overlook.

The three Hellroaring black pups were having a grand old time jumping on and off of rocks and playing tug-o-war with big, flappy pieces of hide.

The Agates eventually made their way west to Hellroaring and sent the Hellroaring wolves running for their lives, scattering them every which way. Since I had watched the Hellroaring pack on that carcass in the morning, I didn’t realize when I

returned in the afternoon and saw wolves in the exact same place and on the same carcass that it was now a different pack. Only the fact that the Hellroaring pack only has two grays, and the pack I saw in the afternoon clearly had more grays, gave it away. Both packs have collared black-turning-silvery gray alpha females and also a collared dark black wolf, so it’s easy to make the wrong assumption, if you aren’t expecting the unexpected!

In other pack news, the 13 member Oxbow Creek pack (formerly 536F’s Group) was often visible in the general area north of the road between North Butte and Hellroaring. The eight member Slough Creek pack has been a bit elusive, with occasional sightings in the Slough Creek area, but they are often gone for several days. A couple of the Unknown Group wolves (which caused such trouble for the Sloughs last April) have even been seen in the Little America/Slough area recently.

The Leopold pack, possibly 18-19 strong, including 12 pups, was sometimes visible far, far away in their traditional Blacktail Plateau territory.

One thing that strikes me is how crowded the many packs are in the Northern Range. From Round Prairie in the east to the Blacktail Plateau in the west, it is a continuum of medium to large packs: Druid (14?), Slough (8), Agate (13), Hellroaring (8), Oxbow (13), and Leopold (19?). The only room for expansion seems to be west of the Blacktail Plateau toward Mammoth

(and the resurrected eight member Swan Lake pack), north out of the Park, or south into the Park’s interior. The Agates have already made forays last summer south to Canyon and the Hayden Valley pack’s territory. It looks to me like there is a loomingpotential for a lot of inter-pack territorial rivalry, especially when the breeding season arrives in early February.

The annual Early Winter Study is going on from November 15 to December 15. During the month, crews of three extremely dedicated volunteers spend every waking moment documenting each and every detail about their assigned pack (the Leopolds, Sloughs or Hellroarings.) The only problem is, the packs don’t always cooperate, and some days it’s hard to even find your wolves!

If you still need more reasons to visit Yellowstone in the late fall/early winter, consider all of the other awesome animals who are still out and about (sans the bears, of course). In one hour of watching the bison carcass near Hitching Post, I was treated to a procession which included a beautiful red fox (clever, and quick too!), a golden eagle (who made everyone scatter just by lifting his mighty wings), six big, bushy coyotes, and the usual assortment of magpies and ravens . . . truly a Thanksgiving feast for the masses!

The red foxes have been particularly obliging and photogenic lately, as have the bighorn sheep in the Gardiner River Canyon (between Gardiner and Mammoth). The big guys are in the rut and making the rocks tumble off the almost vertical canyon walls as they cling to them and battle for the ewes . . . truly a sight to see!

Now and always, we should be so very thankful that we have the wolves and the rest of our animal “family” in Yellowstone to come “home” to at Thanksgiving . . . or any other time of year!

Note from Ralph Maughan. Doug Smith at Yellowstone Park told me today that the Agates had just chased the Sloughs way up Slough Creek to McBride Lake and maybe beyond. He said the Agates have been really “flexing their muscles.” Kathie describes the Agate’s chase of the Hellroaring Pack above.

Yellowstone wolf pack encircles two photographers . . . . .”wild and beautiful”

Paradise Valley wildlife photographer Alan Sachanowski has written a very interesting and timely story about a recent experience he and another photographer had in Hayden Valley close up with the Gibbon wolf pack . . . Ralph Maughan

By Alan Sachanowski.

I have read with interest stories recently about individuals who have felt threatened by wolves in the back country. Forest Service employees being evacuated from a wilderness area because of a perceived threat, an armed bow hunter claiming to have been trapped in his tent for hours, and of course the hunter who inadvertently shot his guide a couple years ago in Paradise Valley Montana, because he mistook him for wolves that were “coming to get him”.  The list of stories goes on. I thought that, perhaps, your readers might be interested in reading another “close encounter” type story. The primary difference between this story and many others is perception–the realization that wolves are not the nearly supernatural devils of our childhood fables; nor are they angels. They are merely highly intelligent, extremely curious, members of the wildlife community.

A few days before the interior roads in Yellowstone National Park were to close for the season, a friend and I decided to take a hike in the southern part of Hayden Valley.  We climbed to the top of a hill about a quarter of a mile from the road and scanned the distant meadows, sage and timber.  Way off in the distance we saw a herd of about twenty or thirty bison and decided to walk in that general direction.  It wasn’t especially cold, perhaps 25 or thirty degrees; and it was alternately snowing lightly and sleeting.

We got out about two miles when we stopped while my friend scanned the tree line, which was still 3/4 mile away, with binoculars. He handed them to me with one word: “Wolves”. I took the binoculars and looked where he indicated. There, on a low hill about three hundred yards away, were three or four wolves sniffing around. My friend, who has photographed wolves extensively both here and in Alaska, suggested that we sit down in the sage. Perhaps, he thought, it might be possible to get a long distance photograph. I continued to watch them through the binoculars as more wolves appeared from the other side of the hill.

Now there were nine, then eleven. They lined up on the hill and were all looking in our direction.

A few weeks earlier, while hiking with another friend in the Pelican Valley, we had come upon five members of the Mollie’s Pack. These wolves had bolted into the timber the moment that we topped the rise, and inadvertently sky-lined ourselves. The current wolves, however, were not running away. In fact, they had begun walking in our direction.

As I understand it, wolves have pretty good eyesight for distinguishing movement; but they rely much more heavily on their sense of smell for identification purposes. We were down-wind and had dropped out of sight into the sage. All that they had seen was something move and then drop to the ground. Could have been an animal bedding down, could have been an injured or dying animal.

Led by a large black and a gray (the alphas?) they began running toward us. I was amazed at how quickly they closed the distance. They split and surrounded us, circling, checking us out. Wewatched at eye level, the muscles rolling beneath their fur as they ran by. Nothing I have ever experienced comes close to how wild and beautiful these wolves were as they ran past so close that I felt that I could reach out and touch them. I might add that while we were both carrying bear spray, neither one of us felt compelled to even so much as loosen our holsters….Because Neither One of Us Ever Felt Threatened.

The wolves stopped and gathered about a hundred or a hundred and fifty feet beyond us. They were now down-wind, and noses went to the air. They were checking our ID. Now that they knew for sure that we were people, they started moving away immediately…..down the valley.

A few of them stopped once or twice to look back, as if to see if we were trying to follow. My friend commented as we were leaving that people who think that truly wild, non habituated wolves are a danger to people simply do not understand wolves. Wolves have a natural aversion to people. We have never been food, we have never represented food.

The real danger, he said, is the same as with any wildlife. Any animal, from a pika to a bison, can be dangerous if habituated to people; approached too closely, fed etc. All wolves need is the freedom to be free.

As we hiked out, we could hear the wolves howling from the trees down the valley….they possibly had gotten separated and the alphas were calling them together. From the top of a hill more than a mile away, we could see them in a long line returning to the valley…..maybe to continue their bison hunt?

My advice to anyone who ever finds themselves in a situation where they feel, for whatever reason, a perceived threat from wolves, would be to leave no doubt as to your identity. Don’t sit in a tent dressed in “no-scent” or “deer-scent” clothing banging on the walls like an elk in death throes. Get out, stand up tall and scream, “I’m a human being!!” My guess is that any wolves in the area will beat a hasty retreat!

The wolf pack. Copyright Alan Sachanowski


Copyright Alan Sacharnowski

Do you want to discuss something?

I notice that many blogs provide a place to post without the posts being in any relation to a particular topic.

So let’s see if there is interest.

The urban deer ‘problem’

Over on Alan Gregory’s blog there is a discussion of urban deer. It’s not just a matter of concern in the East. It’s in the West too, even including Wyoming.

 The Urban Deer ‘problem’

Posted in Deer, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on The urban deer ‘problem’

Wolf report update (by Idaho Fish and Game Dept)


Boise, ID

Date: November 27, 2006
Contact: Ed Mitchell
(208) 334-3700

wolf report: update

Federal officials are investigating the killings of two wolves in the Clearwater region of north-central Idaho, and in November wolves have killed one cow and one calf, both east of Cascade.

The radio collar from the alpha male of the O’Hara Point pack was found and turned in by a deer hunter in mid-November. The pack roams the South Fork of the Clearwater, and the wolf was last located alive on October 4, 2004. The collar has been turned over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement, and the death is under investigation.

An untagged adult female gray wolf was found killed south of Grangeville on November 19. Her death also is under investigation. The total documented wolf mortality including all causes is 60 so far this year in Idaho.

On November 9, federal officials confirmed that wolves killed a calf on state land east of Cascade. Idaho Department of Fish and Game authorized the removal of two wolves.

A week later, on November 17, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services confirmed wolves killed a cow on private land southeast of Cascade, an area where wolves of the Orphan Pack have killed livestock in the past. Traps were set.

Wolf control actions, authorized by Fish and Game and carried out by the federal Wildlife Services, are in no danger of jeopardizing wolf recovery in Idaho.

The Fish and Wildlife Service considers the wolf recovered in the northern Rocky Mountains. Federal officials are working on a proposal to remove wolves from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana separately from Wyoming, which would be a break from policy of considering the wolf population in all three states together.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s wolf reports can be viewed at

Look who’s stalking: a new cougar killer. Another cub is killed. Was it the usual suspect or a newcomer?

An interesting, lengthy cougar story from the Santa Monica Mountains near L.A. appeared the other day in the LA Times (By Amanda Covarrubias)

Wild Bill: The greatest hunting controversy of them all [wolf hunting]

At New West, Bill Schneider wrote an interesting column on the likihood of wolf hunting in the future in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

There have been a lot of thoughtful responses, especially from Robert Hoskins, who is a regular poster here.

 The Greatest Hunting Controversy of Them All. New West by Bill Schneider.

Cody wary of pass closure [to snowmobiles in the winter]

It’s no surprise that some merchants in Cody are opposed to the Park’s Service’ proposal to close the East Entrance to Yellowstone (and Sylvan Pass) to snowmobiles in the winter, but what is most interesting in the article below is the information that avalanche control alone near Sylvan Pass has amounted to a subsidy of $200 per snowmobile on the average.

In addition, only about 12 people a day take this route, hardly a number that will impact Cody.

Read Cody wary of pass closure in the Jackson Hole Daily by Cory Hatch.

Posted in public lands, public lands management. Comments Off on Cody wary of pass closure [to snowmobiles in the winter]

Nature programs’ goal: No child left inside

There was a story in the LA Times today by Julie Cart (no link, it’s a link unfriendly newspaper) that visits to national parks are dropping and there seems to be a general ignorance of actual outdoors by today’s children due to lack of experience.

Here is a story on at least a beginning at changing that.

Nature programs’ goal: No child left inside. USA Today. By Wendy Koch,

Idaho’s federal district court judge stops more heli-ski use of the Palisades Wilderness Study area

U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill has overturned a 2005 Forest Service decision that granted High Mountain Heli-Skiing vastly increased use of Palisades roadless area in the Snake River Range. The 1984 Wyoming Wilderness stated that the wilderness characteristics of this area, which is on the Idaho/Wyoming border were to be protected. Winmill, chief judge of the Idaho federal district, concluded that this meant that motorized use in the area was not to increase, a point conservationists have long argued for the Palisades and other areas protected by the “wilderness study area” category by Congress.

Story in the Jackson Hole News. By Corey Hatch.

My page on the Palisades backcountry.

In the upper reaches of the South Fork of Indian Creek. Palisades wilderness study area, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming. Photo copyright Ralph Maughan

WyDOT, others try new ways to reduce roadkill

Teton County and other NW Wyoming areas have a tremendous problem with vehicles hitting wildlife and even vice versa, and a lot of it is larger than deer. The article below says “256 elk, moose and mule deer have been killed on roads. In addition, nine bison and one black bear were killed by cars.”

New measures are being tried such as lighted warning bulletins on the roadside and sensing devicies. One problem with the latter is false positives–a warning when no wildlife are at the roadside.

Article by Whitney Royster in the Casper Star Tribune.

Idaho Bow Hunter Has Close Call with Wolf Pack [very doubtful as described]

Channel 2 news in Boise, which seems to be staking out as a leader in reporting doubtful wolf stories, now has a news story about an Idaho bow hunter who claims wolves followed him and surrounded his tent for “14 to 15 hours” in a central Idaho location.

Idaho Bow Hunter Has Close Call with Wolf Pack. KCBI. Boise. They have a video on-line of the news. The tone of the reporter is one of sensationalization.

I learned of this about a week ago. It seemed odd, but perhaps some details would flesh out an interesting story because hunters have run into a lot of wolves in central Idaho.

I posted to the bowhunters board to get some details, but Richard Besendorfer, the hunter in question, refused. I thought he could certainly provide a lot more information than. . . “I spent the next 14 to 15 hours in my small mountaineering tent unable to draw my bow as I was circled by the wolves the entire night. There were 7 wolves as close as 3 feet at times and all I could do is wait them out, banging on the wall of the tent in a feabile [sic] attempt to keep them at bay.”

His fellow webboarders didn’t like seeing him questioned and repeatedly testified that he was a truthful and fine fellow and he ought not to be questioned.

I think he probably had a wolf encounter, but could not really provide credible details about what may have been an exaggeration.

I suggested that such aggressive wolf behavior, if it happened, was intolerable, and that he was not just allowed, but had a duty to shoot one of the wolves with his bow and arrow. He said that they were too close.

From the news story, especially listening to it, my judgment is that Idaho’s large carnivore manger, Steve Nadeau, didn’t buy the story. Instead Nadeau gave a general run down on Idaho wolves and hunters seeing them.

The story also predicted wolves would soon show up in the Boise foothills, which is a pretty good prediction because it already happened and some time ago. That’s the nice thing about covering this issue for eleven years now, I can remember wolf news from back when the reporter was a pre-teen.

I think folks should carry pepper spray, as they do for other dangerous wildife. It will give them peace of mind.

Car hits deer carcass, two die

This is just another story on the animal that is the true threat to human life–deer, not wolves.

Brief story in the Denver Post. 

Posted in Deer. 2 Comments »

Plan allows 720 sleds a day in Yellowstone

It’s probably hard for most folks to keep up on the struggle over snowmobiles in Yellowstone Park. The article today indicates that the current temporary plan has now mostly become the draft plan for the future. Public comments will be taken beginning in March 2007.

Snowmobiling in the Park would continue with a maximum 720 machines a day allowed. The snowmobiles will be held to standards meant to ensure they are both quieter and less polluting than before the controversy arose. This requires 4-stroke, rather than the typical 2-stroke snowmobile engire. Furthermore, all riders have to go with a commercial guide.

The biggest difference between the temporary and the draft plan is the closure of the East Entrance of the Park to snowmobiles. The East Entrance gets small use and the expenditure for avalanche control are very high, amounting to a huge subsidy per snowmobile user for that Entrance.

Story in Billings Gazette by Mike Stark.

Probably the most important recent development, however, is not the plan, but on the ground. Actual snowmobile use has dropped far below this cap. Last winter only about 250 snowmobiles a day entered the Park. A number of news articles have written of the profound drop in Yellowstone snowmobile use. The reasons seem to be 1. lack of snow 2. many snowmobiles users don’t like the restraints on speed and noise 3. many snowmobilers don’t like the requirement of a guide 4. with a decline in snowmobile use, snowcoach use has been able to become rooted. More and more visitors choose a snowcoach to enter wintertime Yellowstone.

“Feds assure grizzly progress”

“SUNDANCE — Depending on how potential litigation plays out, management of the grizzly bear could be back in the hands of state officials — and the bear itself back in the gunsights of hunters — by 2008.”

That’s progress? It seems return to state management of endangered or threatened species always means “now we get to kill them.” How come killing is management?

This is from the Casper Star Tribune’s report on the recent Wyoming Game and Fish Committee meeting at Sundance, Wyoming.

That’s the meeting where the department director said wolves in Wyoming are not hurting the size of the elk population, but confidently predicted that wolves will hurt the herds someday, maybe even soon, if Wyoming doesn’t get to kill a whole bunch of them too.

Posted in Bears, Wyoming wolves. Comments Off on “Feds assure grizzly progress”

Elk hunter kills recently relocated grizzly near Togwotee Pass

This has been an extremely good year for grizzly bear survival in both the Greater Yellowstone and the Northern Continental Divide ecosystem (Glacier NP, Bob Marshall Wilderness and vicinity).

This story is one exception. The matter is under investigation to see if elk hunter Ken Meade killed the recently relocated grizzly by mistake, in self defense, or simply shot it.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune. By Whitney Royster.

Posted in Bears. Comments Off on Elk hunter kills recently relocated grizzly near Togwotee Pass

Idaho F&G to investigate wolf sightings in Craig Mountain area (near Oregon border)

This brief news item has been in the Idaho media, only they give it the vague headline “F&G to investigate North Idaho wolf sightings,” which would not be news at all.

Craig Mountain is at the lower end of Hells Canyon and right on the Oregon border. A student showed me some data about a year ago indicating the area at or near Craig Mountain has the greatest biodiversity in Idaho (in part due to the large elevation differences).

And this would be an ungulate rich, wolf crossing area into Oregon! They could cross the Snake River (the state boundary) and move right on up the Grande Rhone River, an elk and deer, backcountry highway right into NE Oregon.

I created this from Google Earth to show the proximity. The view is to the south.

Posted in Idaho wolves, Wolves. Comments Off on Idaho F&G to investigate wolf sightings in Craig Mountain area (near Oregon border)

Wyoming G&F chief: Wolves threaten hunting (for sure, or well maybe not right now)

The article is in today’s Jackson Hole Star-Tribune.

The Game and Fish Commission had a big meeting in Sundance, Wyoming, Thursday and they commanded all the wolf biologists to attend.

Read the first three paragraphs of the story about the meeting. In them “G&F Chief” Terry Cleveland contradicts himself three times.

P1. He says so far things are well. “Wolves have a taste for elk in the greater Yellowstone region, which has worked out well for both species — for the time being.”

P2. If Wyoming Game and Fish doesn’t get it away, things might not turn out well. “However, if there’s no resolution to the state’s dispute with the federal government over removing the animal from protection under the Endangered Species Act, the wolf’s taste for elk may diminish hunting opportunities, according to Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Terry Cleveland.”

P3. If WY doesn’t get its way things definitely will not turn out well. “Let there be no doubt: If we don’t get wolves delisted, the elk hunting opportunity in this state is going to decline,” Cleveland said.”

Glacier Park officials feel fortunate

The headline is ironic, given the masssive damage the recent storms did to the facilities of the Park.

Glacier Park officials feel fortunate,” by Michael Jamison. Missoulian.

Posted in public lands. Comments Off on Glacier Park officials feel fortunate

Washington County, Utah “wilderness bill” faces much opposition, but could pass

This bill “designates” a lot of wilderness acreage, but it is very deceptive. A good portion of it is in Zion National Park. Wilderness designation is largely redundant there. Much roadless area in the vicinity would remain unprotected.The city of St. George and now sprawling nearby towns is another classic of bad planning and uncontrolled growth, although many of the individual developments are quite lovely, and were even planned to blend with the color of the desert cliffs and slopes.

The only limits to growth have been lack of water. Utah’s “Dixie” as it is called, is serious desert country. Unfortunately the real point of the bill is not wilderness, but privatizing a big chunk of public land so St. George can continue its march over the landscape. The bill would sell public land to pay for the building of a big pipeline all the way across southern Utah to tap Lake Powell in the state’s SE Corner and bring it to Washington County in the SW corner of Beehive State. Utility corridors would be authorized and also massive off road vehicle trail system.

So the real effect of the bill is not protection, but continued development of an energy and water guzzling culture. The looming end of the Lame Duck session of the old Congress may spell the end of this bill in its present form, but there is talk about an omnibus bill for the various “wilderness, with side-payment” bills, as I call them.

Here is the story of the hearing before Senator Larry Craig’s Senate subcommittee. “Dixie land bill faces obstacles. End of session in D.C. is a problem for growth measure for S. Utah.” By Suzanne Struglinski. The Deseret Morning News.

If you want to stop the wasteful use of land and energy and destruction, not the creation of real wilderness, you need to contact your Senator and ask them to oppose the Washington County Growth and Conservation Act.

Here is a detailed alert from SUWA, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance. Note that the lame duck adjouns for Thanksgiving, so there is probably time to stop it.

Scott Stouder: Idaho hunters must protect their public lands before it’s too late

Scott Stouder is a field coordinator for Trout Unlimited in Idaho. He lives in Riggins where steelhead fishing on the Salmon River and the short salmon seasons are very important.

Stouder is warning of Idaho’s development-oriented position of the Bush roadless area policy.

Stouder’s piece in today’s Idaho Statesman. 

Coalbed methane well reclamation not in compliance in Wyoming

The gas companies are not reclaiming the land as they are supposed to. I can hardly believe it, and they promised in their advertisements! 😮

Here is the sorry, but hardly surprising story in the Billings Gazette.

Posted in oil and gas, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Coalbed methane well reclamation not in compliance in Wyoming

‘Canned hunting’ goes in garbage can [in Oregon]

Good news from Oregon. This was in the Oregonian.

Wild Bill on Pombo, Green Anger and the Endangered Species Act

Bill Schneider has a fine article on the defeat of Richard Pombo. Read it in New West.

In the view of most conservationists, Pombo wasn’t just an opponent, not an adversary, but a crazy man throwing bombs at everything good and decent. He had to be cut down.

US Forest Service trying to get away with elk feedground reauthorization using minor documentation

A well established principle of law is that any federal agency must do an environmental impact statement for any major federal action significantly affecting the environment. This includes reauthorization of continuing activities.What does “major” mean mean? There is controversy over that and many lawsuits in the past to provide guidance, but “major” likely means a controversial activity which affects the health of wildlife and livestock even if they have done this for a while on an annual basis.

A categorical exemption, or CE, is a necessarily device to avoid the time and cost of environmental analysis of certain classes of activities that are obviously minor, such as rebuilding a non-controversial fence, or a small timber sale. Unfortunately, the Bridger-Teton NF is yearly trying to reauthorize these immensely controversial feedgrounds which are the breeding grounds of brucellosis, chronic wasting disease, and other diseases with just a CE.

I imagine a lawsuit will be on its way unless they decide to do environmental analysis, which also requires far more opportunity for public comment than a CE does.

Story today in the Casper Star Tribune by Whitney Royster.

– – – –


I have moved Robert Hoskins comments up into this article because of the added detail he provides. I see his comments have generated a lot of additional comments as did my original post. RM

Hoskins wrote:

“Thanks for bringing attention to this. Given that Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds are a disease time bomb waiting to explode in the Greater Yellowstone, with consequences to the ecosystem that are now incalculable, the determination of the livestock industry dominated federal and state agencies to ignore the truth about feedgrounds can only be dscribed as wilful negligence of the highest order. Read the rest of this entry »

Results of long awaited grizzly bear count are out

How many grizzlies live in the Northern Continental Divide ecoystem (that’s Glacier National Park and about 6-million adjaccent acres)?

A massive first-of-its-kind DNA study was undertaken several years ago using this new method which avoids the pitfalls of direct observation plus interpolation which has been the past method.

The Daily InterLake reports today the number is a minimum of 545 grizzlies.

Read the story by Jim Mann.

Posted in Bears. 2 Comments »

Drop in snowmobile use helped Yellowstone air quality

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees reports that decreased use of Yellowstone Park by snowmobiles has been the greatest factor favoring air quality in the Park the last few years.

Read about it in the Jackson Hole News and Guide. By Cory Hatch.

Posted in Motor vehicles wildlife, public lands, public lands management. Comments Off on Drop in snowmobile use helped Yellowstone air quality

Druids are returning more and more to their old haunts. Sloughs are wary.

While they are often still out of sight up in the Lamar River, upstream from Lamar Valley, the 15-member Druid Pack appears to be reclaiming their old territory after they were marginalized in recent years by the surging Slough Creek Pack.

Today the third encounter of the year between the two pack was inferred, although not observed.

The Druids were observed north of highway at Soda Butte Cone on a kill. This is the first time they have been seen north of the highway (recall they used to den just above there on Druid Peak). The 8 member Slough Creek Pack was observed about a mile to mile-and-a-half away and moving away (to the west). Then the packs engaged in a long howling bout. Eventually the Sloughs continued west.

In the previous two instances, it was the Slough Creek Pack moving away from the Druids. No physical contact between them has yet been seen, although it is certainly expected.

In other news, the 13 Agate Creek wolves have been observed in some unusual places. Park Ranger-Naturalist Rick McIntyre said that today he observed them for the first time ever on Hellroaring Slopes, the long time home of many past wolf packs.

The newly named Oxbow Creek Pack, which was recently derived from the Leopolds, uses the Hellroaring area, but it has visited the Tower Junction area at least twice in recent weeks. This is generally Agate territory in fall and winter months.

Thanks go to Rick McIntyre for this information.

What Idaho Fish and Game says about the hunting season


A Wildlife Officer’s View of Hunting Season 2006
By George Fischer – Idaho Department of Fish and Game

For many hunters the 2006 season is winding down, yet for others the season is just beginning with whitetail rut hunts and late season elk hunts. Many bird hunters are just starting to hit the field as temperatures cool and upland birds concentrate in thicker cover. Below is a quick run down of what officers in the Grangeville area have observed this fall.

ELK – It’s been a real hit-and-miss season for elk hunters. Some have found lots of bulls and some real trophies, yet others have worked hard just to find a track. As you would expect, wolf issues have weighed heavy on many hunters though out the season. Wolves are changing elk behavior patterns and appear to be concentrating elk in small areas.

When visiting with hunters this fall, it was common to hear many hunters finding elk bunched up in small areas with many traditional hunting areas devoid of elk. Generally, back-country elk hunters found the elk moved down low early this year. Hunters have been doing great the past several years heading high for early bulls. However this fall, hunters down low had some of the better success.

DEER – Deer hunters are enjoying average success. White-tailed deer are still rebounding in lower elevations from the Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) outbreak of several years ago. Does and small bucks are plentiful in most areas, but as the rut approaches the larger mature bucks will begin to show themselves more.

MOOSE – Many hunters are concerned about moose numbers in many of the local units, especially in Unit 15 and the backcountry areas. Moose herd health is on the biologist’s “radar” screen. A data check shows hunter success and antler size is about the same as it has been historically. But hunters are most concerned with the number of wolf kills they are finding and the lack of cow and calf moose observed while they pursue other game.

WILD TURKEY AND UPLAND GAME BIRDS – Turkeys continue to expand into new territory in the region with numbers increasing to stabilizing. Chukar, Hungarian partridge and quail numbers are also decent. While overall numbers are down from the glory days in the early nineties, they are up from a few years ago. Pheasant numbers are about average where you can find good cover to hold them. Forest grouse made it into a good number of stew pots this year, as numbers appeared to be a little better then average in many areas.

This fall, our officers have spent the majority of their time visiting with hunters, responding to citizen calls of poaching incidents and patrolling to detect and deter poaching. Overall, most of the hunters and anglers we contacted were having a great time and doing their best to do things right. A major enforcement check station was also conducted on Highway 95 near Riggins in which several hundred hunters were checked for law compliance. Only 28 game violations were detected. For the number of hunters that passed through the check station, officers were pleased with the overall compliance.

Unfortunately, we have also responded to several “drive by” shootings of deer on private land with several animals shot and left to rot or just shot with only the antlers taken. Like it or not, there area a visible minority out there that are destroying the hunter image. They don’t care about ethics, sustaining game populations or helping assure that the tradition of hunting continues for future generations. Most poach for bloodlust and greed.

Many hunters and non-hunting citizens alike are no longer tolerating the abuse of our local wildlife treasures. They are reporting the crimes to authorities, providing crucial information that has helped bring many poachers to justice.

Please don’t tolerate poaching, even in your friends and family. To report a wildlife violation, a phone call to your local conservation officer or sheriff’s department is often the quickest route. A call to Citizens Against Poaching 1 (800)632-5999 can assure your call is kept confidential and you may be eligible for a reward.

Some of the best hunting of the year is still to come. Please do your part to help the future of our great heritage by obeying all game laws, practicing ethical hunting and passing on the tradition by taking a youngster or new hunter afield.

George Fischer is a District Conservation Officer for IDFG stationed in Grangeville.

Buffalo Field Campaign says “no habitat, no hunt” as second Montana bison hunt begins.


It’s Opening Day for Montana’s Bison Hunt

Exclusive BFC Video & Photos Available Upon Request

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Contact: BFC, Stephany Seay 406-646-0070

WEST YELLOWSTONE & GARDINER, MONTANA. Today marks the opening day of Montana’s bison hunt. America’s last wild herd, the Yellowstone bison are enjoyed and admired by millions of national park visitors, yet between today and February 15 they will be targets for gunners along Park borders. Montana has issued 140 permits to kill Yellowstone bison that enter the state.

A bull bison was shot this morning along the Madison River, less than a quarter of a mile from the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. Another bull was killed just outside of the Park’s northern boundary, near Gardiner.

Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) a Montana-based wild bison advocacy group that opposes the current bison management will be monitoring and documenting the hunt. BFC aims to educate hunters regarding the extreme mismanagement of the Yellowstone bison and bolster support for bison conservation in Montana.

“Our position is clear,” said Mike Mease, BFC co-founder, “No habitat, no hunt.”

Wild bison are ecologically extinct in Montana and through a joint state-federal agency plan are subjected to harassment or death any time they enter the state. Montana is a critical part of the bison’s native habitat.

The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) is the authorizing agency of the hunt, yet this agency lacks any training in or knowledge of wildlife management. The DOL was authorized to harass bison up to a week before the hunt began. Last year the DOL cancelled the bison hunt to harass a group of 40 bison that were within the hunting zone. Their actions caused 14 bison to fall through the ice of Hebgen Lake. Two bison drowned; the rest were eventually sent to slaughter.

BFC strongly opposes the current bison hunt and calls on Montana to provide substantial habitat throughout state, allowing bison to establish a viable resident population. BFC also calls for stripping the DOL of any and all bison management authority.

“This hunt is extremely premature,” said Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) spokeswoman Stephany Seay. “Wild bison are ecologically extinct in Montana. The state currently doesn’t value bison as a native wildlife species and livestock interests are calling the shots. Bison must be provided year-round habitat and be allowed to recover their native Montana range,” Seay maintained.

American Bison once spanned the continent, numbering between 30 and 50 million. The Yellowstone bison are America’s only continuously wild herd, numbering fewer than 4,000 animals, diminished to less than .01 percent of the bison’s former population.


Media & Outreach

Buffalo Field Campaign
P.O. Box 957
West Yellowstone, MT 59758

Posted in Bison. Comments Off on Buffalo Field Campaign says “no habitat, no hunt” as second Montana bison hunt begins.

The Colorado Cutthroat trout to be reviewed for ESA listing

The Colorado Cutthroat trout has been in decline (along with most sub-species of the cutthroat). As is the usual case, decline of habitat and competition from non-native fish are the causes of likely decline.

Like most potential listings nowadays, it required a federal judge to tell the USFWS to do its job and do a scientific review of the species’ actual condition.

Story. Casper Star Tribune.

Posted in Fish, politics. Comments Off on The Colorado Cutthroat trout to be reviewed for ESA listing

Harvey Manning, megahiker of Pacific Northwest dies.

I’ve written three hiking guides. It was a lot of hiking/backpacking. The walking and writing record of Harvey Manning is beyond my ability to comprehend. But Manning was more than an author of hiking guides, his record in conservation work is impressive too.

Story on Manning from the Post-Intelligener.

Greater Yellowstone grizzly bears soon to be delisted

The grizzly bear recovery in the Greater Yellowstone has been a great success, but most activists I know fear for its long run future, not because it isn’t really recovered, but because every predictable trend about the grizzly bear’s habitat points downward. In addition, habitat corridors allowing dispersal to central Idaho and Northern Montana have not been created.

Story in the Billings Gazette by Mike Stark.

Posted in Bears. 5 Comments »

Wyoming State AFL-CIO asks BLM to pull gas leases from scenic, wildlife rich part of the Red Desert

Normally we expect to have organized labor in favor of developing big projects, but the “18,000-member union has sent a formal protest to the Bureau of Land Management concerning oil and gas leasing in Wyoming.”

Specifically, the AFL-CIO is protesting the leasing of 200,000 acre Adobe Town area in Sweetwater County near Rock Springs.

This is another indication how much oil and gas development of the West is out of control, spoiling the West on a massive scale.

If you love the West, please contact your newly elected members of Congress.

Read Labor’s Love of the Outdoors in the Casper Star Tribune. By Jeff Gearino.

I should add that it’s folks like this who can get the attention of Wyoming’s not-very-conservation-minded Governor, Democrat Dave Freudenthal.

Mexican wolf restoration update for October

Endangered Species Updates
November 13, 2006
MEXICAN WOLF REINTRODUCTION PROJECT NEWS. Monthly Status Report: October 1 – 31, 2006
The following is a summary of Mexican wolf reintroduction project activities in Arizona on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNF) and in New Mexico on the Gila National Forest (GNF), collectively known as the Blue Range Wolf Reintroduction Area (BRWRA). Additional information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at 1-888-459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department Web site at or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Web site at Past updates may also be viewed on either Web site, or interested parties may sign up to receive this update electronically by visiting This update is a public document and information in it can be used for any purpose. The reintroduction project is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF), USDA Forest Service (USFS), USDA-APHIS Wildlife Services (USDA-WS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) located on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR). Other entities cooperate through the Adaptive Management Work Group that meets quarterly in Arizona and/or New Mexico, including private individuals, organizations and tribes.To view the wolf distribution map, which contains the most recent three months of wolf aerial locations, please visit Under “Mexican Wolf Conservation and Management,” scroll down to the links under “Distribution.”Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to: (928) 339-4329 or toll free at 1-888-459-9653. To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AGFD’s 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at 1-800-352-0700.Numbering System: Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks the history of all known Mexican wolves. Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 18 months or older. Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 18 months or pups. The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate alpha wolves.Definitions: For the purposes of the Monthly Update, a “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established home range. The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars sometimes form packs. If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are reasonably resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.CURRENT POPULATION STATUSAs of the end of October, the collared population consisted of 28* wolves with functional radio collars dispersed among nine packs and four single wolves.* See the Bluestem, Hawks Nest and Rim packs, single M973 and M1044 on the FAIR, Arizona, below for more detailed information.SEASONAL NEWS

The IFT has confirmed wild born pups in the Bluestem, Rim and San Mateo packs in Arizona; in the Aspen, Luna and Saddle packs in New Mexico; and suspect pups with the Middle Fork pack in New Mexico.


Bluestem Pack (collared AF521, M990, m991, m1041 and f1042)
Throughout October, the IFT located the pack both within and outside their traditional home range on the FAIR and ASNF, with M990 and m991 continuing to exhibit dispersal behavior. On the October 2 aerial telemetry flight, the IFT located AF521 and m991 on the ASNF, and located M990 approximately five miles to the northeast, also on the ASNF. On the October 11 telemetry flight, the IFT located the pack northeast of their traditional home range in the north-central portion of the primary recovery area. On October 13, the IFT captured two pups associated with AF521 and assigned them studbook numbers m1041 and f1042. The pups were in excellent condition, and the IFT fitted them with radio collars and released them on site. On the October 16 telemetry flight, the IFT located AF521, m1041 and f1042 together in the central portion of their home range on the ASNF. The IFT located M990 and M991 separate from the rest of the pack and each other, with M990 being in the far northwest portion of the BRWRA and m991 north of the pack’s traditional home range on the ASNF. On the October 31 telemetry flight, the IFT located AM521, m991, m1041 and f1042 more than 20 miles northeast of their home range in New Mexico in what is considered San Mateo pack territory.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM619 and AF486 with a non-functional collar)
Alpha M619 continued to use its traditional home range east of the Big Lake area on the ASNF. The IFT could not determine the presence of nor obtain a visual confirmation of AF486 due to a failed radio collar.

Meridian Pack (collared AM806 and f1028)
On September 24, during the course of intensive monitoring, the IFT discovered AF838 dead approximately seven miles south of Alpine, Arizona, on the ASNF. The circumstances of the wolf’s death are currently under investigation. Final necropsy results are pending from the USFWS’s National Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, which will determine the cause of death. Individuals with information that they believe may be helpful regarding the wolf’s death should contact USFWS special agents in Mesa, Arizona, at 480-967-7900 or call the Arizona Game and Fish Department Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-352-0700.

On the October 11 and 16 telemetry flights, the IFT located AM806 near the town of Luna, New Mexico, 17 miles northeast of its release site in Arizona. The IFT observed AM806 alone the following day and hazed it from the area. AM806 remained in the Luna area until October 17. On October 19, the IFT visually confirmed f1028 alone in the area of the Meridian pack release site in Arizona; however, on October 24, the IFT observed AM806 back in Arizona with f1028. On October 25, the IFT captured both AM806 and f1028, fitting f1028 with a radio collar and replacing the radio collar on AM806. On October 29, the IFT observed both AM806 and f1028 together in the vicinity of their release site near Middle Mountain.

Rim Pack (collared AF858, AM992 and m1043)
Throughout October, the IFT located the Rim pack within its traditional home range in the central portion of the ASNF. On October 1, the IFT observed three wolves with this pack. On October 22, the IFT captured a pup, assigned it studbook number m1043, fitted it with a radio collar and released it on site. On the October 30 telemetry flight, the IFT located the alpha pair on the San Carlos Apache Reservation (SCAR), approximately three miles west of the ASNF border, and they located m1043 13 miles to the northeast on the ASNF.

San Mateo Pack (collared AF903, m927 and AM796 with a non-functional collar)
During October, the San Mateo pack continued to use areas east of Escudilla Mountain near the Arizona/New Mexico border. On the October 2 telemetry flight, the IFT located the pack in the northwest portion of the GNF in New Mexico, but they had returned near the Arizona/New Mexico border by the October 11 telemetry flight. The IFT found the pack over 15 miles east of the New Mexico border on the October 16 telemetry flight; however, they had again returned to Arizona by the October 23 flight.

M973 (collared)
During early October, the IFT continued to document M973 in and around Greer, Arizona. On October 11, consistent with the nuisance behavior protocol in Standard Operating Procedure 13, the IFT captured M973 in the northwest portion of the BRWRA, and transported it to the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility in New Mexico. Male 973 remains eligible for future translocation.


M1044 (collared)
On October 26, the IFT captured a male yearling on the FAIR and assigned it studbook number M1044. The IFT fitted the wolf with a radio collar and released it on site. During the October 31 telemetry flight, the IFT observed four uncollared wolves with M1044.


Aspen Pack (collared AF667, m1038, m1039, f1040 and uncollared AM512)
Throughout October, the IFT located the Aspen pack in the eastern portion of the Gila Wilderness.

Luna Pack (collared AM583, m925 and uncollared AF562)
Alpha M583 and yearling m925 remained within their traditional home range in the central portion of the GNF and northern portion of the Gila Wilderness.

Middle Fork Pack (collared AF861 and AM871)
Throughout October, the IFT located AF861 and AM871 together in the central portion of the Gila Wilderness. On the October 2 telemetry flight, the IFT located f923 with the Middle Fork pack.

Saddle Pack (collared AF797, AM732 and m1007)
During October, the Saddle pack continued to use its traditional home range in the southern portion of the GNF. On the October 2 telemetry flight, the IFT located m1007 north of the Saddle pack and within three miles of f924. On the October 11 telemetry flight, the IFT observed AM732, based on characteristic coloration.

M859 (collared)
On the October 11 and 16 aerial telemetry flights, the IFT located M859 with f924 in the GNF, but found the two separated by approximately 10 miles on the October 23 telemetry flight and by over 20 miles on the October 30 flight.

f923 (collared)
On the October 2 telemetry flight, the IFT located f923 with the Middle Fork pack in the central portion of the Gila Wilderness. On the October 11 telemetry flight, the IFT located f923 near Reserve, New Mexico. By the October 30 telemetry flight, f923 had traveled more than 30 miles to the northwest. On October 18, the IFT received a report that f923 had been caught in a non-project foothold trap. The IFT was unable to obtain a sighting of f923 or locate the trap; however, two days later, the IFT observed f923 without the trap.

f924 (collared)
On the October 2 telemetry flight, the IFT located f924 north of the Saddle pack and within three miles of m1007. On the October 11 and 16 telemetry flights, the IFT located f924 with M859 in the northern portion of the GNF, but found the two separated by approximately 10 miles on the October 23 telemetry flight and by over 20 miles on the October 30 flight.


On September 30, the IFT investigated a cow carcass in Catron County, New Mexico. The IFT investigation determined the kill to be a possible wolf depredation, but there were no wolves with radio collars in the area or any wolf sign discovered.

On October 11, the IFT investigated a dead horse in Apache County, Arizona. The IFT investigation determined that the horse died from a lightening strike.


On October 25, Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility personnel moved m1019 from the management facility at Sevilleta to the Rio Grande Zoo vet clinic for further veterinary care.


On October 6, Shawna Nelson, in cooperation with USFS personnel, provided four informal presentations to 84 first grade students from Coronado Elementary School in St. Johns as part of their annual field trip to Alpine, Arizona.

On October 6, Saleen Richter gave a presentation to 45 people at the “Natural History of the Gila: A Southwestern New Mexico Symposium” conference at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, New Mexico.

On October 14, Maggie Dwire gave a presentation to 50 people at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge open house in New Mexico.

On October 11, Shawna Nelson and Shawn Farry provided a presentation to 16 community members of Greer, Arizona.

On October 11, Dan Groebner provided a presentation on the history of wolves in Arizona to 250 third grade students from Show Low Elementary School at the Show Low Historical Museum.

On October 14, Shawn Farry and John Oakleaf provided a presentation and led a field trip for 20 ASU and UofA students near Alpine, Arizona.

On October 14 and 15, Shawna Nelson, Krista Beazley and Dan Groebner worked an information booth for the Woodland Wild Country Expo in Pinetop, Arizona. Approximately 400 people attended this inaugural wildlife event.

On October 20, the Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG) held a meeting in Clifton, Arizona. Agenda topics included translocations and new releases of Mexican wolves in 2006, depredation and wolf management activities and the 5-Year Review of the reintroduction project: the Adaptive Management Oversight Committee’s approach to acting on the 37 recommendations from the 5-Year Review.

On October 21, Melissa Woolf gave an educational presentation at the Living Desert State Park in Carlsbad, New Mexico.

On October 21, Laura Kelly provided a telemetry demonstration to 120 people at the California Wolf Center as part of Wolf Awareness Week in Julian, California.

On October 27, Shawna Nelson provided a presentation for 14 participants of Wild by Nature, a wildlife watching field trip, and National Park Service personnel in the Gila Wilderness, New Mexico. The following day, she provided a telemetry demonstration and assisted participants in locating and identifying animal tracks.


Nicole Heywood left the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project October 20.

Brynn Nelson, a USFWS volunteer, left the Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project October 31.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of up to $10,000 and the Arizona Game and Fish Department Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican gray wolves. A variety of public interest groups are offering an additional $35,000, for a total reward amount of up to $46,000, depending on the information provided.

Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agents in Mesa, AZ, at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, AZ, at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, NM, at (505) 346-7828; the White Mountain Apache Tribe at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; Arizona Game and Fish Department Operation Game Thief at 1-800-352-0700; or New Mexico Department of Game and Fish Operation Game Thief at 1-800-432-4263. Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act, and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000 and/or not more than one year in jail, and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.

Fight begins over oil and gas exploration on the scenic Bridger-Teton National Forest

springcr-head.jpgIn the southern part of the Salt River Range (Spring Creek). Bridger-Teton National Forest. Photo Copyright Ralph Maughan.

Ugly and environmentally disruptive natural gas wells will not necessarily stay out on the high desert near Pinedale, WY. The Bridger-Teton National Forest embraces the highlands around Pinedale and north to Jackson Hole, and over half the forest is now available for leasing.

This battle was fought once before in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Public opinion stopped most of the wells, although several were drilled, mostly in the Gros Ventre in Granite Creek, but several wells were drilled in the Mt. Leidy Highlands in full view of the Tetons. Intense opposition emerged to keep a well out of the headwaters of Cache Creek near Jackson, and that area was eventually included in the then new, Gros Ventre Wilderness.

No oil or gas was developed subsequent to any the drilling.

I still recall the utter arrogance of the industry at that time.

As drilling interest waned, the national forest put in place numerous lease stipulations to protect the land and the wildlife, limiting where wells could be drilled and even whether the surface could be occupied (Note that oil and gas leases expire after 10 years if a well is not drilled on the lease.).

Under the current Administration lease stipulations have turned out to mean little more than nice words on a piece of paper–the gas boys get the lease and the protective stipulations are waived when they want to drill, rendering them meaningless.

Now the Jackson Hole Alliance and other groups want the scenic, wildlife rich, national forest taken off the table.

Fight begins over BTNF energy exploration. By Nick Suarez. Jackson Hole Planet.

Posted in oil and gas, public lands, public lands management, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Fight begins over oil and gas exploration on the scenic Bridger-Teton National Forest

Two arrested for poaching an elk in Yellowstone Park

They were just inside the Park’s northern boundary.

Story in the Bozeman Chronicle.

Park County (WY) seeks to intervene in Wyoming wolf case

Wyoming is suing the federal government again, trying to get the courts to tell the USFWS that a sow’s ear is really a silk purpose. Every time time Wyoming does this, Park County’s Attorney Bryan Skoric demands that Park County be given the legal status of “intervenor.” Since this is a legal slam dunk, it is hardly worth a news story.

It seems to be a yearly ritual, giving another opportunity for the jackass to bray.

– – – –

It seems like conservation groups should get as much media as the Park County attorney. Here is the news release they issued today. Conservation Groups Intervene in Wyoming Wolf Lawsuit. Aim is to prevent unregulated poisoning, trapping, and shooting of gray wolves in Wyoming.

Posted in Delisting, Wolves, Wyoming wolves. Comments Off on Park County (WY) seeks to intervene in Wyoming wolf case

Yellowstone Park sees snowmobile use slide

Brodie Farquhar wrote about the recent decline in snowmobile use inside Yellowstone in the Casper Star-Tribune today, November 13, 2006.

A telling quote was that of a snowmobile dealer in Cody, Wyoming. “Big-time snowmobile fans relish speed and resent the mandate that all snowmobiles be commercially guided, [Ed] Wells said. “That was the last straw,” he said. “They’ve turned their back on Yellowstone.”

The speed demons have turned their back on Yellowstone. That’s just awful 😉

Winter gas drilling exemptions given around Pinedale, WY despite protests from Wyoming Game and Fish

No surprise, it’s just an indication that natural gas drilling continues to be first in the Green River Basin and that the BLM works for the oil and gas industry (courtesy of George W. Bush).

For those of you who live in areas where the oil and gas boys are yet to begin, you and your interests will be treated with the same contempt.

Today, Nov. 13. Winter drilling exceptions granted. BLM has yet to deny requests around Pinedale. By The Associated Press.

Earlier story in this blog. WY Game and Fish takes a stand against winter gas drilling near Pinedale. November 2nd, 2006

Deer Attacks, Kills His Owner in New York.

This is article for those folks worried about wolves killing and eating them. What’s more common than a fatal wolf attack, a deer attack! Deer Attacks, Kills His Owner in New York. AP

I know a woman in Pocatello, Idaho who was almost killed by a deer in the local zoo.

Posted in Deer. 1 Comment »

No scientific basis for current wolf control program. Opinion

This article was written by Dr. Gordon Haber, a wildlife biologist at the University of Alaska, and it appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Nov. 12. 2006.

No scientific basis for current wolf control program. By Gordon Haber

Haber is probably correct, for the basis for most wolf population reduction programs is political, not scientific.

Posted in politics, Wolves. Comments Off on No scientific basis for current wolf control program. Opinion

James Imhofe: Eco-Enemy #1 Grabs Some Bench; Baucus, West Gain Power

Here is more about the effect of the elections on the Interior Western U.S. and the environment.

The change in who chairs the congressional committees will make a huge difference. Anti-wildlife House Resources chair Richard Pombo, will not only lose his chairmanship, but his congressional seat.

In the US Senate, Jim Imhofe, who gets his information about global warming from a science fiction writer, will lose his chairmanship to become ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. Many other beneficial changes for wildlife and conservation in Congress will happen.

As a political scientist, my view is that the most important aspect of wildlife management is getting the right politics. It’s not biology.

Added Nov. 14. Here some more about Imhofe. He’s going serve out his last month-and-a-half as committee chairman in part by investigating a children’s book on climate change. The Carpetbagger Report gives details.

Posted in politics. Comments Off on James Imhofe: Eco-Enemy #1 Grabs Some Bench; Baucus, West Gain Power

Birth control to limit bear population won’t work.

A lot of folks in New Jersey would rather try to control the state’s burgeoning bear population with bear birth control rather than hunting. A study indicates birth control is not very effective and it is costly.

Read the article at Carnivore Conservation.

Posted in Bears. 2 Comments »

Flooding closes Mt. Rainier National Park

Yesterday it was revealed that the famous Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park had washed out in the big Pacific Northwest rainstorm.

Today the news is that flooding has closed Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington State. More rain is predicted for today and this weekend. News Story.

Posted in national parks, public lands. Comments Off on Flooding closes Mt. Rainier National Park

Critical habitat for lynx established by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This issue has been very controversial, and the Service’s designation is very small. It is only 10% of what was first proposed, and it is almost entirely inside national parks where the designation hardly matters.

Story from the Daily InterLake (Kalispell, Montana).

Too much giveaway in CIEDRA says new chair of House Resources Committee

House Resources Committee chair, Richard Pombo, the ardent enemy of endangered species and public lands will be the one who becomes extinct January 1, 2007. Meanwhile he remains chair of the committee for the “lame duck” session of Congress which will soon resume.

A big question is the future of CIEDRA, which has drawn both support and opposition from Idaho and national conservationists as well as non-wilderness and anti-wilderness forces. The bill passed the House this year, but has been stuck in Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s Senate subcommittee, much to the dismay of Idaho Representative Mike Simpson, the bill’s sponsor.

Craig, long a foe of wilderness, has been expected to kill the bill or turn it into an anti-wilderness vehicle. His options now increase in the lame dusk session, but decrease afterwards when he will be replaced as subcommittee chair by a Democrat. Will he let it through as it passed the House, kill it, or try the anti-wilderness transformation route?

Republican representative Simpson, just reelected, is expected to reintroduce CIEDRA in the next Congress, but Pombo’s replacement will be Nick Rahill of West Virginia. Rahill is already on record opposing the “land giveaways” to Custer and Blaine County that are in the bill. So if this bill to establish Wilderness in the White Cloud and Boulder Mountains of Central Idaho is to pass a Democratic Congress, the side payments to anti-wilderness groups will probably have to be reduced.

Buffalo Field Campaign. Report from the Field.

If there’s good news, it’s that this canned hunt was organized by wildlife managers who didn’t implement knowledge of bison migration habits. Some gunners will definitely come away empty-handed. Maybe that’s what it will take for hunters to finally understand that until there is significant year-round habitat, until wild buffalo establish a viable, resident population throughout the state, until the Department of Livestock is stripped of authority, and until Montana honors the buffalo and respects them as a native wildlife species, the “hunt” is not only unfair, unethical, and unjust, it’s plain WRONG by any definition.

The Yellowstone buffalo are America’s last continuously wild herd and number fewer than 4,000 animals. Their once vast numbers have been reduced to less than .01 percent of their historic population. They are genetically and behaviorally unique, yet with such a small population, threatened with wanton government destruction year after year, the last wild buffalo are in real danger of an eventual collapse. Wild buffalo are essential to the health of grassland ecosystems, they are the icon of the American West, and they represent a profound sacredness to First Nations People. Wild buffalo deserve protection and respect, not cruelty and indifference. They deserve to be honored, not persecuted. The land hungers for their return. When the land teemed with millions of buffalo, they gave of themselves freely. We now live in a time when we must give back to them.

Please continue to call, write, fax and email Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Insist that he take real and positive action for the last wild buffalo and encourage Montana to co-exist with these gentle, shaggy giants who have walked this land for over ten thousand years.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, State Capitol, Helena, MT 59620-0801

Phone: 1-406-444-3111 / Fax: 1-406-444 5529 / Email:
Thanks to each and every one of you who continue to be a strong voice for the last wild buffalo!
Roam Free,


View the hunt breakdown –

Posted in Bison. 2 Comments »

Lynx poaching rises in Colorado

Two radio collared lynx have been shot in the last two weeks on southwestern Colorado. A $5000 reward is being offered for information

Wild Again has the full story.

Donahue Pack, north of Yellowstone eliminated by Montana Fish,Wildlife and Parks

The Donahue Pack has been a small wolf pack in the vicinity of Paradise Valley. It formed a couple years ago.

The pack has long been beset by mange, and seems to have been down to its alpha pair when they were shot after two incidents of killing large cow calves in Paradise Valley.

They were shot on Oct. 25.

Phoney property rights measure (Prop 2) goes down in Idaho; Arizona dummies approve it

Out-of-state developer Howie Rich’s Proposition 2 got the bum’s rush in Idaho, losing by an overwhelming 76-to 24%. Except for $50 all of the money spent in Idaho on behalf of the ballot initiative came from Howie’s group. Conservative Idaho voters saw it for what it was, a radical effort to remake the foundations of private property.

Rich managed to get his sneak proposal on the ballot in a number of other Western states. Mostly it was rejected, but Arizona voters fell for the bait and approved his plan to destroy any regulation of land use. Arizona, already notorious for their urban sprawl and wasteful use of water, will now have to pay people to not misuse their land and in doing so harm the property of others. To be fair, I should add the Rich’s Idaho initiative was the worst of the bunch. As proposed in Idaho, the nuisance maker would get money without even first being subjected to land use enforcement. I really can’t see any difference between what was proposed and organized crime extracting “protection money” from property owners.

If it wasn’t for paid signature gatherers, Rich’s initiatives would not have found their way on the ballot in any state. While I think paid signature gathering should be illegal, and bet most others agree, the U.S. Supreme Court in its wisdom has decided that money spent this way amounts to constitutionally protected speech, so paid signature gathering can continue to be used to undermine the basis of civil society for any number of schemes.

The Boise Weekly reports on Prop 2.

Back in the early 20 th century, the ballot initiative was created to bypass legislatures and governors who had been bought off. While this was and may still may be a great problem, the initiative process itself has largely become a route whereby special interests, not the public, try to buy themselves favorable laws, pummel the liberties of others, and generally make mischief.

Here is a summary of Rich’s mischief as reported in New West.

Added Nov. 12, from the Idaho Mountain Express. Cities hail failure of Proposition 2. ‘Takings’ initiative soundly defeated in Blaine, other counties.

Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park washed out

“Glacier National Park has seen more rain in the past couple of days than it did all of July, August and September and that has caused flooding in several locations, including a severe washout of the Going-to-the-Sun Road on the east side above Jackson Glacier Overlook.”

Story in the Hungry Horse News.

This could have a big impact next summer.

Update. The Kalispell Daily InterLake has a story too and an impressive photo. See We have lost the road. By Jim Mann.

Still more news (Nov. 12, 2006). Massive damage results from rain in Glacier Park. By the AP and the Missoulian. Photos1 and Photos2.

Posted in national parks, public lands. Comments Off on Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park washed out

Wolves Are Not Dispersing As Fast As Expected from Yellowstone

An interesting article in Science News this morning–wolves are not moving out of the Greater Yellowstone as fast as mathematical models predict.

I don’t know the details of the article, but I suspect the reason is that the area is surrounded by ring of domestic sheep and the wolves shot for killing sheep.

Democrats gain power nationwide, expected to weaken Bush, Republican anti-conservation policies

The Democrats gained easy control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years, and they might still win the U.S. Senate. They also picked up a majority of governors and state legislatures.

A sweet victory came in California were the allegedly corrupt anti-wildlife, public-land-privatizing chair of the House Resources Committee, Richard Pombo, was given the boot. In Montana, Democrat John Tester held a narrow lead in the still undecided US Senate race against corrupt, anti-conservation senator Conrad Burns, Montana’s national embarrassment.

In Idaho, however, there was little good news for conservation with the election of Republican Butch Otter and Bill Sali, widely perceived as a right-wing extremist interested only in abortion, as Otter’s congressional replacement. Idaho voters overwhelmingly rejected the extreme property rights measure, proposition 2, 77-23%. That measure would require government compensation if any land use law such as zoning reduced the speculative value of anyone’s property. Opposition to Prop 2 came from across the political spectrum.

Wyoming’s oil and gas congresswomen Barbara Cubin held a 700 vote lead over Democrat Gary Trauner. Cubin had been widely criticized for her subservience to these powerful industries. Wyoming Democratic governor Dave Freudenthal, whose conservation record is just fair, won a huge reelection victory over his hapless GOP opponent.

With control of the U.S. House Democrats will have the power to investigate corruption in the Dept. of Interior and in the Bush Administration in general. It is possible Bush will abandon his Rovian strategy of playing exclusively to the Republican base with no concessions to any interests beyond that. If not, Democrats will block any anti-conservation legislation. Rethinking their party’s stance, it is possible Republican congressionals will return to their stance of 20 or so years ago and show some bipartisanship and support some conservation measures. Bush is massively unpopular and six years of dividing Americans against each other has finally ended in his big defeat.

– – – – –

More on the election outcomes-

Link to “Say no to Pombo.” “Congressman McNerney.”

In the Bozeman area in Montana, former head of the Yellowstone wolf project, Mike Phillips, was elected to the Montana House of Representatives.

Update. Tester beats Burns.

Update. Allen Concedes Election, Democrats Win Control of Congress. By Michael D. Shear. Washington Post Staff Writer. Thursday, November 9, 2006; 5:36 PM

Posted in politics. Comments Off on Democrats gain power nationwide, expected to weaken Bush, Republican anti-conservation policies

Expected aftermath of Derby fire prompts removal of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

With little vegetation to hold it back, an expected torrent of snowmelt waters next spring has prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to move rare Yellowstone cutthroat trout out of two streams inside the giant wildlife fire’s perimeter. They are being put into streams 30 miles away until the channel condition of the burn area streams stabilizes.

I don’t recall this being done before after a fire. Read, “Montana Trout Moved Because of Wildfire.” Washington Post.

Posted in Fish, Wildfires, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Expected aftermath of Derby fire prompts removal of Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

Systematic Interference with Science at Interior Department Exposed

This story has appeared in a number of newspapers. This one is from the Union of Concerned Scientists about the actions of BushCo at the top of the Dept. of Interior.

“High-ranking political appointees within the Department of the Interior have rewritten numerous scientific documents to prevent the protection of several highly imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act.” Read the rest in this article

Here is more about the matter from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, plus a story about “habitat conservation plans” (part of the ESA) and the problems with them. HCAs were a not-so-great innovation of the Clinton Administration.

In the election tomorrow, for the sake of their country and the outdoors, I hope Americans will reject those candidates who have disrespected science so much over the last six years.

Idaho game commissioners frustrated over delays in wolf delisting

Idaho game commissioners frustrated over [delisting] delays. AP in the Helena Independent Record.

Regardless how folks feel about wolves, this is another example of the political trend of recent years to reject science in favor of cultural prejudice, and should be opposed on that basis alone. Recall this recent story, In Idaho wilderness, researchers say wolves aren’t decimating elk

Hopefully Idaho’s next governor, regardless of his stance of wolves, will nominate Fish and Game Commissioners who know something professionally about wildlife management. Other than commissioner Gary Power, at the present they are simply politically prominent individuals with some interest in hunting and fishing. For example, the article states “Commissioners said they continue to hear from angry hunters who see wolves and wolf tracks, but few elk.” That is hardly good evidence (other than political evidence). Satisfied hunters do not contact the commission. Many hunters still need to adjust and hunt differently than before the wolf restoration. Wolves are a good scapegoat for poor hunting technique and bad luck. Finally, even if wolves were seriously depleting elk herds, it is essentially impossible for there to be more predators of elk (wolves) than elk.At lot depends on the next governor of Idaho.

The latest polls show Democracy Jerry Brady surprisingly ahead of long-time GOP office-holder Butch Otter. Hard to believe a Democrat could win in Idaho. Otter is running anti-wolf commercials in an effort to cover up his support for selling off the public lands. Brady hasn’t shown any support for wolves either, but his editorial record at the newspaper he runs, the Idaho Falls Post-Register, is that he comes down consistently on the side of conservation (a word closely and legitimately related to conservative).

Update. The Idaho Statesman (largest paper in Idaho) endorsed Brady from Idaho governor today. One of the things they liked was Brady’s willingness to talk about breaching the four navigation dams on the Snake River in Washington state that are killing off Idaho’s salmon runs. They also liked his support of CIEDRA and the Owyhee Initiative, both very controversial among conservationists. Nevertheless, Otter doesn’t support them because he thinks the development interests didn’t get enough!

Western Watersheds Project documents how sheep degrade High Uintas Wilderness

Here is a link to the report. “Watershed Conditions. Uinta Wilderness, Utah.” (pdf)

Here the the link at to the High Uintas Wilderness. From this web site, it read like a great wilderness. No mention of this enormous problem.

Here are some photos from Dr. Carter’s studies.

Lake Fork Basin from Red Knob Pass. Bare ground in the foreground and the expansive basin with little vegetation
Location on topo map

What the high meadows should look like. Middle Fork of Beaver Creek at Long Meadow. Notice the grassy, stable banks. They are undercut, providing trout cover, and the creek was full of trout. Location on topo map.

Tributary of the ungrazed Burnt Fork of Black’s Fork.

Bank scouring and sluffing along the West Fork of Black’s Fork. This is the result of high intensity floods because the uplands have greatly depleted vegetation due to the relentless sheep grazing. There is nothing to hold the waters back so that it percolates into the ground.

Story on Boise TV of massive sheep losses to wolves near Council, Idaho not sustained by facts


“Wolves killing sheep, cattle by the dozens near Council”

That was the story blared on KTVB television in Boise. Here is that story.

However, there have been NO new depredations in the Blue Bunch pack area since July and then it was only a few sheep kills, not a mass slaughter.

Suzanne Stone of Defenders of Wildlife checked the story with Wildlife Services, an agency always ready to go after wolves.

Stone said Mr. Yantis apparently didn’t contact WS about his supposed losses. Todd Grimm, State Deputy Director of Wildlife Services told Stone he had never heard of Yantis, and had not investigated any depredations on his place.

Because the telephone numbers telling where to report losses are plastered all over the Internet and elsewhere, it seems unusual that such a large loss would not be reported to authorities.

Curt Mack of the Nez Perce Tribal wolf team told Stone that 43 sheep were confirmed killed this season by the Lick Creek Pack, which was then “controlled.” Some, or all of these belonged to Ron Shurtz, mentioned in the TV story.

The dead cattle mentioned were so far gone “melted down” that there was no way to tell how they died.

No problems found in tests of Rammell’s elk so far

So far the elk tested from Rex Rammell’s elk shooting farm have tested negative for diseases or the genes of red deer (European elk). Not all have been tested.

The escape of his domestic elk was a big controversy a month ago and was covered heavily on this blog and in the main stream media. I won’t recapitulate.

Read the story in the Idaho Falls Post Register.

Burbot (ling) spread rapidly in the Green River Basin

Just another piece of bad news from that part of Wyoming that is getting totally screwed up.

From the Billings Gazette. AP story. 

Posted in Fish. Comments Off on Burbot (ling) spread rapidly in the Green River Basin

NE Montana mystery canid finally killed after a year

Some folks thought it was a wolf hybrid, some thought a wolf. It has been preying on sheep in NE Montana for over a year. It turned out to be a wolf, way out on the Montana plains.

There is no evidence that other wolves are in the area. The wolf was a bit more reddish than most and had no radio collar or tags. It could have been a disperser from the Greater Yellowstone or somewhere else in Montana.

Not all Montana wolves by any means are derived from the Yellowstone Park reintroduction. The Montana wolf recovery began with the migration of wolves down the spine of the Rockies from Alberta and British Columbia in the 1980s. Later their numbers were augmented by dispersal of reintroduced wolves from Idaho and Greater Yellowstone.

There is an outside chance it was an illegally released wolf or even a disperser from Minnesota.

Story in the Billings Gazette. By Mike Stark.

Posted in Montana wolves, Wolf dispersal, Wolves, Wolves and Livestock. Comments Off on NE Montana mystery canid finally killed after a year

Montana study shows bears are the biggest predator of elk calves

The study was conducted in the Garnet Range, east of Missoula, MT. However, a study reported over the last several years in Yellowstone Park showed the same thing, although there it was grizzly bears, not black bears.

If we look over at Idaho, one of the criticisms of Idaho Fish and Game’s “science” in their proposal to reduce the Clearwater wolf population by 80% for 5 years, is the fact they they are already heavily controlling the bear population there. Scientific observation requires that you change one variable (such as number of wolves) at a time, not several.

Read, Study reaffirms bears biggest predator threat to young elk calves. By Brett French. Billings Gazette Outdoor Writer.

As a sidenote, this study has a lot of other interesting aspects, including the effect of private lands on human hunting take.

Posted in Bears, Wolves, Wolves and prey. Comments Off on Montana study shows bears are the biggest predator of elk calves

WY Game and Fish takes a stand against winter gas drilling near Pinedale

Due to a severe drought, forage conditions will be very poor this winter in the Green River Basin, and wintertime gas drilling makes matter much worse because it disturbs the wintering animals, reducing further their actual habitat.

Gregg Arthur, Game and Fish deputy director wrote to the BLM that because of poor forage growth, “[W]e can anticipate elevated winter mortality, even if climatic conditions are mild. If the winter is severe, significant population reductions from stress and starvation could result.” “Significant disturbance activities on big game crucial winter ranges this year could have catastrophic results on at least a local basis (such as the Pinedale Mesa), if not greater.”

In response the BLM said they will consider all comments received, which means, “we don’t give a damn what you think, but we will read the letter.”

Gov. Dave Freudenthal’s aide said the governor “will take everyone’s opinion into account as he continues to consider these sorts of proposals on a case-by-case basis,” and noted this is one agency’s opinion.”

This means he’s probably not on their side.

Freudenthal’s sure-to-lose opponent Republican Ray Hunkins, said the BLM has been a good steward of the land, and it should make decisions.

Of course, most folks in Sublette County now know that the BLM has become a subsidiary of BushCo and the gas industry.

So it looks like wildlife will lose out.

This information was taken from Whitney Royster’s story in the Casper Star Tribune and turned into commentary.

Moccasin Lake Pack, Montana

While the Yellowstone Park packs are well know, those in the Greater Yellowstone, outside the Park are known much less, and photos are hard to come by.

I was happy to get two photos of the Moccasin Lake Pack from MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Jon Trapp took them. This pack roams the foothills and some of the interior of the northern end of Montana’s Absaroka Mountains, south of Big Timber.

These photos are the first time the pack has been located since the huge Derby forest fire of late summer. One photo is of the alpha pair crossing a rocky slope. The second is of the pack 2 adults and 2 pups (lower left) crossing through burnt timber.
I believe the alpha female is 242F. She is from the old Sheep Mountain Pack that once ruled the country north of Gardiner near Dome Mountain, and the male was originally a disperser from the Park’s Swan Lake Pack, 473M. Last year they were not considered a breeding pair, but hey, this year, 2 pups!



Amenity buyers snapping up ranches in the Greater Yellowstone

While many private lands are being sub-divided, many ranches simply have most of the livestock removed and the land is reclaimed for fish and wildlife around Greater Yellowstone as folks with a new perspective move in.

The picture is more complicated, however.

Mike Starks reports in the Billings Gazette on a study just completed on the phenomenon.

Posted in Grazing and livestock, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Amenity buyers snapping up ranches in the Greater Yellowstone

Wolves, cowboys and the truth

Rob Edward and Wendy Keefover-Ring wrote this as a guest editorial in the Denver Post after the Post wrote one of the innumerable “Third-generation-Wyoming-rancher- Smith-lifted-his-craggy,-windswept-face genre stories-

Posted in Wolves, Wolves and Livestock. Comments Off on Wolves, cowboys and the truth